Finally out of hibernation: a new sweater is on the horizon…

I have been struggling somewhat at the start of the year. I am between knitting projects and good books. It has been snowing endlessly (12 storms since the first of December) and after shoveling I’m too tired to knit. I want to knit a sweater, but I’m still thinking that I should continue to destash. I could spend the coming year knitting socks, but somehow this isn’t appealing at the moment. I want to do some stranded colorwork, but I really should remove some of those projects that have been sitting in the corner thinking about where they went wrong and bring them back to life…

I have been knitting away on Hannah’s blanket again and now have 12 hexagons finished. (This pattern is the Nectar Blanket by Ysolde Teague.) I have a couple of other projects that I can work on, but meh…

This week, in a moment of reckless impulsiveness, I pulled a sweater that has been hibernating for over two decades out of the garage and took a good look at it. The fabric of the knitting is really cool, but somehow, I fell out of love with the colors and packed it away long ago. Now I like the colors again, but I’m clueless about what I was doing when I packed it away. There are simple but important questions like, where is the pattern, and what size was I making, and holy smokes, where exactly was I in the pattern when I stopped knitting…

Here’s the knitted fabric. Pretty cool, right? I debated just cutting this up and making a sewn teddy bear or pillow or something for a while…

I finally pulled myself together and took stock of what I had in the bin with the sweater.

I had the chart that I was working from, the color key that I made with the yarns that I was using, and some funky notes written on the chart…

I did more digging around until I located the book that the pattern came from. Oh, this is an Alice Starmore pattern published in 1995 that I bought a kit for some time after I bought the book. I put it away when I was working on my master’s degree, so this sweater has been in hibernation since at least 1998. Wow. This sweater has been in hibernation for so long it is almost fossilized. Anyway, here is the book.

I had this book with all my Alice Starmore books and it didn’t take too long to locate the sweater again.
The sweater is Rona.

Once I had the pattern again, I did some counting of stitches and used the chart to figure out where I was in the knitting. Oh my goodness, I was up at the neckline and there are 4 different steeks in this knitted wonder!! The front steek is now on standby, and I just have to worry about the sleeves and the one created to handle the neckline. The notes on the chart I was using actually are the count of the neckline decreases and I had the armhole steeks drawn onto the chart. I’m so glad that I still have the chart and the yarn key! Evidently this was size medium… the directions even began to make sense as I read them over a couple of times. I pulled myself together and knit a few rounds and it all came back to me fairly quickly; I was able to start adding tally marks to the chart to track the neckline decreases just as I had more than two decades ago.

I have all the balls of yarn organized again and I am back at the knitting with a purpose. I hope to have the body of the sweater off the needles in another week or so.
Mateo has been a good boy all week and has been hanging out with me while I knit.

Have a good week everyone!


It began with a wail (really, you can wail by text…) from my niece in California… MY MITTS ARE HURT!! The wailing continued in the following texts… How could this have happened? I took such good care of them! Suddenly they are falling apart! If I send them to you, can you fix them?

I literally save the leftover yarn from all of my projects just for moments like this one, and I knew that I had the yarn from these mitts, so I said to send them to me and I would see what I could do.

Mitts on magazine cover.
While waiting for the mitts to arrive I hunted down the pattern. They are the Latvian Fingerless Mitts shown on the cover of this magazine (Knitting Traditions, Winter 2011), and they are just beautiful. Just look at that pattern! My niece asked me to make them as soon as the magazine came out, and a few weeks later I sent them to her.

Did you notice the date on the magazine cover? Those mitts were made 8 years ago. Oops. I think that I know what went wrong…

Worn mitts.
Even the most lovingly cared for mitts will eventually wear out. The breaks and worn fibers were right along the edging and thumb where they rubbed against the steering wheel of the car.  Poor babies… nothing is forever.

Dead mitt.
No question about it. The repair job on these mitts would be horrendous. I let her know that they were toast.

Here’s the deal with the mitts. The day that she received them from me she sent back a happy picture of her wearing them with a huge smile on her face. She showed them off on Facebook. She made them the cover picture of her Facebook page. She thanked me again and again over the years as  she continued to wear and enjoy them.

Never, ever, was there a person more knitworthy than my niece!

I told her I would make her some new mitts.

My niece began to send me pictures of wildly intricate and fiddly mitts for me to consider knitting for her. Lots of color, braids, ruffles, bobbles and stranded features. Mitts that a unicorn would be ecstatic to receive. My heart sank. I’m drowning in knitting, and I have also been contacted by another couple of people asking me to spin/knit for them. It is Christmas. I want to go back to knitting some of my projects that were bumped for the holidays. I don’t want to buy more yarn…

Monet Again mitts.
But when this came I was hooked. Hummm… where is this pattern? What do I have in the yarn stash? I must make these!! I must!!

Curse you Pinterest! There is no way I can walk away from the fabulous mitt project now when faced with this!  All objections were abandoned and I committed wholeheartedly to knitting “mitts to die for”.  My niece and I began to track down the pattern and worked in tandem until we had it. These mitts are the project of the Ravelry user Susanmarie, and here is her project page for the mitts. She based the mitts on a sock pattern produced by Blue Moon Fiber Arts called Sauvie Island.  Luckily for me Susanmarie kept fabulous notes on her design, so I’m in pretty good shape as I attempt to make these mitts for my niece, but I needed to hunt down the original sock pattern.  We soon discovered that the pattern was included in a booklet produced by Blue Moon that is now out of print, but more intrepid investigations led us to a PDF version that could be purchased. I bought the sock booklet and my niece will reimburse me. We were in business. Time to stash dive for the yarn!!

Check out this color wildness!

Greyscale of yarn.
I wanted to make sure that there would be good contrast between the two yarns to support the stranded colorwork. Yep. This should work!`

A unicorn would cry tears of joy to have mitts made with this yarn. Okay, my niece is not a unicorn, but she has been known to flash hair in some of these bright colors; the colors and the mitt design are screaming her name. I bumped her mitts to the top of the project queue. As soon as the essential Christmas knitting is out of the way I’ll be casting on…

What will happen to the worn out mitts? I have to send them back to my niece because she wants to FRAME THEM!

Never, ever, was there a person more knitworthy than my niece!

February Socks are Done!

I know, I know. This is Wednesday and I should be writing a post about what I have on my needles. The truth of the matter is, yesterday I got up and realized that I had five different projects going right now. Naturally I responded by going directly to my favorite yarn store and indulging in some yummy cashmere blend yarn. Clearly I need to exercise some self restraint and get some knitting done before I cast on the newest project. Last night I really applied myself, and I am happy to announce: The February Socks are Done!!! (Ta-daa!!) (Sorry about that if you clicked on the link. Now you know what life was like in my biology classroom…)

So, without any further ado, here they are:

I decided to reverse the colors in the second sock. Fun, huh! You can also see that I sucked it up and knitted the entire twined topper on the second sock.

Heels of socks.
The heel construction of these socks allowed them to be worked stranded without cutting the yarn.

Well, they certainly are rustic looking, aren’t they? I am now referring to them as the Mongolian Boots. They are warm, warm, warm, however, and that is what I wanted. It is nice and sunny outside today, but as soon as the snow and cold come back I am ready.

I really learned a lot with these socks; here are some of the highlights of the adventure.

  • Swedish knitting genes aside, twining isn’t for everyone. Stranding was faster, easier, and I didn’t have to spend half my time untwisting the yarn. I twined only the tops of the socks, and stranded the rest.
  • I know how to knit with both hands so I can carry one color in each. Purl with both hands: not so much. My second heel (sock on the left) looks much better than the first one.
  • When making a decision about which color to call your MC, you should write that down. The increased stitches in the gusset look much better in sock #2 because I was following the directions. Duh!
  • If you can’t figure out complicated directions at some point (final join of heel to gusset) just make your best guess, knit a bunch of stitches together and move on. There are no sock police.

Whew! Time to finish up the other projects (get ready HItchhiker, here I come!) so I will be ready for the March socks. New Year’s resolutions are still a go. 🙂

Project Notes: the Basic Sock pattern in Knitting Scandinavian Slippers and Socks by Laura Farson. Yarn: Aran weight wool from my DIL’s trip to Ireland, dyed with Gaywool dyes.

Introducing the February 2015 Sock

My feet just hate the cold. Once they get cold, they stay cold for a long time. (Yep. It’s a Reynaud’s thing.)  A few weeks ago I came home on a sub-zero night and ended up under the covers wearing layers of wool including socks and my Ugg boots trying to warm up. Seriously, this is ridiculous! Time to fight back!!

Sock and Book
I’m knitting the Basic Sock in the book Knitting Scandinavian Slippers and Socks by Laura Farson.

Say hello everyone to the February sock. <grin> This sock is stranded or twined every single row of knitting including the heels and toes. Doesn’t that sound warm? I’m knitting it in a rustic worsted weight wool (this is the same Irish wool that got dyed in my canning jars a couple of posts back) that is lofty and very warm. I’m using yarn that is heavier than what is called for in the pattern, so they will be larger and more dense. These are the kind of socks that I can use as slippers over lighter socks while indoors, or they can stay on my feet while I’m wearing my snow boots. They are going to be warm, warm, warm!!!

I am so motivated to have warm feet!!

Anyway, this pattern is very interesting and I am learning lots of new tricks. The cast on was “Two-Strand Twisted German Cast On” which seems a lot like Old Norwegian cast on, but with two colors.

Top of ock.
The blue yarn at the top shows the cast on and two rows of the twined garter stitch edging.

The edging continued with twined garter stitch, also new to me, and created so much twist in the working yarn that I abandoned  it and moved on to the checker stitch without finishing the last two rows. Instead of twining I’m knitting the rest of the sock stranded. The twining is much stretchier than what would be traditional for a Scandinavian sock, but I want to get these socks done before the next bad cold snap.

Inside of sock.
All this stranding is going to make the socks cushy and warm. Warm is good.

Anyway, I’m happy with my stranding: look how plush and warm it looks!!

Gusset of sock.
The gusset is created by adding stitches to each side of 25 central stitches. Later they will be reduced in the construction of the bottom of the heel. There is no heel flap and picked-up stitches. All new to me!

The heel is worked in a way that I have never seen before, but it looks like it will be a good fit on my foot. I’m getting close to the bottom of the gusset now, and the heel looks pretty challenging, so this might be something of a learning curve. 🙂 I’m knitting with two cable needles instead of my usual double points, and I am finding out that this is easier for trying on the sock while it’s being knitted.

So here it is. The February sock is going to be fun, I’ll learn lots of new techniques, and I should end up with warm feet. Yeah!